Original Poems: Preface by John Dodson Taylor, Sr. (1883)   Leave a comment

The Bookkeeper, by Philip van Dijk

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The Title Page of the Book:

ORIGINAL POEMS

BY

JOHN DODSON TAYLOR

CHARLESTON, S. C.

WALKER, EVANS & COGSWELL, PRINTERS,

NOS 3 Broad and 109 East Bay Streets

1883.

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PREFACE

I can forewarn those of my friends who may condescend to a perusal of the following verse, that they will find them very simple and very juvenile, for the majority of them were written before I left school and without much care or study.  They were written for the amusement of myself and fellow-students, without any intention, or even thought of ever publishing them.

I have endeavored throughout at perfect originality, but I am aware that at this age it is almost impossible to walk the fields of thought without stepping on some ground already trodden, yet I have this assurance, that I am innocent of wilful plagiarism.

A few of my friends, who have read my poems, have expressed some little appreciation, but there are many, particularly the older and sagacious, who will no doubt think, and perhaps rightly, that a man as young as I am might be engaged in a more lucrative vocation; and I will say to them that they can entertain no opinion of the doggerel writer too degraded for me to fully adopt, for I consider the mere quack in that sacred art, of all quacks, the most contemptible.

Though my poems are the offspring of a youthful mind and a mind undisciplined by experience, yet I know this is no palliation of the affront  shown by imposing upon them a pack of nauseating, nonsensical jingles, and I would not, if I could, substitute juvenality, inexperience, or anything of the kind, for merit, and all I ask, and indeed all I desire, is a fair and impartial judgment.  If, therefore, after such perusal, my poems are found to contain no merit, then let them be consigned to oblivion and their author to infamy, for there is where they belong.

The literary world has been flooded long enough with a vile, stagnant ooze, called poetry, which is but the commonest, meanest of prose dressed in sacred mantle of poesy, perhaps to hide beneath that mantle its woeful sterility of thought, yet which, as a clown in the robe of a priest, becomes more ridiculous and abominable; and it is high time that some measures were taken to restrain the “mob;” the dignity of the holy art demands it.

Therefore, if the kind reader concludes that my place is among the detested horde, let not youth nor any personal regards arrest the severest criticism, but make of me an example, for I am willing to be sacrificed upon the altar of poesy, if it will in aught contribute to the maintenance of her purity and dignity.

I propose for my productions to stand solely upon their own intrinsic merit, or not to stand at all.

Laurels fliched or begged, though comely for a while, soon wither, and instead of being honorable, they become dishonorable; their beauty and freshness fade and fly away, and as the apples of the Dead Sea, they only make the hands which hold them to rue it.

I am yet young, and if I am in the wrong path, there may be some hope of my reformation, and I may yet become a good business man and a useful citizen; and a virtuous old age may in a measure atone for the frivolities and idle fancies of youth.

Were I to hearken to the whisperings of pride, I certainly would not submit my productions to the gaze of the public eye, but some of my wisest and best friends have solicited their publication and it is to satisfy these, as well as a curiosity of my own, that I have made the venture.

To those who otherwise might be put to the inconvenience of proving the fact, I will state now, once for all, that I do fancy myself possessed of some capacity at least for rhyming, and I do not think that any one can accuse me of displaying an egotistical spirit in so saying, for, I am sure that a mere tact for rhyming is nothing to be proud of, since writing rhyme is often very far from writing poetry.  But whether my poetical talents extend any farther than a mere proclivity for rhyming is a question which I frankly tell you I cannot solve, and it is for this very purpose, and not for the picayune sum for which I shall sell my book, that I am publishing it.

I shall enter upon the undertaking with “fear and trembling,” and I shall realize my most sanguine expectation if my verses find favor with those of my own age.  Some of the pieces may tickle the fancy of the youthful of my readers, and the older know how to overlook “boyish indiscretions.”

Thanking my subscribers, who, by their kindness have enabled me to publish my book,

I am their obliged servant,

J.D.T.

Summerville, GA., 1883

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HISTORICAL NOTE:

John Dodson Taylor joined the Summerville Presbyterian Church, Summerville, Georgia, in 1885.  He and his wife, Harriet (“Hattie”) welcomed John Dodson Taylor, Jr., my grandfather, into the world in 1905.  My great-grandfather did become a good businessman and human being, living until 1936, when he died broke, having paid his employees out of his own accounts rather than fire them or lay them off when the business accounts had run dry, due to the ravages of the Great Depression.  He was a man of strong opinions, and some people disliked him very much, but his heart and money were in the right place when it counted.

The Chattooga County history (Summerville being the seat of Chattooga County) notes that Summerville Presbyterian Church, founded in 1841, erected a new structure in 1889.  That building became unsafe in 1923, so the congregation dedicated its new (and current) worship building in 1924.  The county history reads in part:

The cornerstone, which was laid May 4, 1924, was furnished by John D. Taylor, Sr.  It was made of marble quarried from his land southeast of Summerville.  Placed in the cornerstone was a picture of the former building, a picture of the new building, attendance figures of the Vanguard Sunday School class for May 4, 1924, and a picture of the peach blossom decorations used for the Taylor-Caulkins wedding on April 5.  The first service held in the new building was the marriage of Helen Dodson Taylor to Wilford Caulkins on April 5, 1924.

The 1988 church history reads in part:

July 29, 1934, there was a dedication service for the building.  The history from the cornerstone was read by Col. John D. Taylor.  Taylor also delivered the cancelled mortgage to the Pastor.

All poems by John Dodson Taylor, Sr., at this weblog come from a time before he was a “senior,” a businessman, a husband, a father, and a pillar of the Presbyterian Church.  They date to a time when he was fresh-faced young man with his life ahead of him.  These poetical works constitute a time capsule–an interesting and meritorious one at that.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 8, 2011 COMMON ERA

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JOHN DODSON TAYLOR, SR.

DECEMBER 23, 1860-JULY 2, 1936

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Posted August 8, 2011 by neatnik2009

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